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. Sun-Ok made a nice curtsy to Thane, then she drug the huge sack o’ axes what she was carryin’ up to where he was standin’ in front o’ his throne. Thane seemed pleased with the axes and assured her their trade agreement with the Gripplies would still be in effect, at least fer another couple o’ days.

Then I think the two o’ them chatted a bit ‘bout the weather. I aint’ too sure ‘cause me and Bel hung back and it was hard to hear ‘em, ya know? I ain’t hailed him no more and that was that and the three o’ us left Thane’s castle and journeyed back ta Foothold.

The bunch o’ us spent the rest o’ the week healin’ from our battle with the goblins and preparin’ for our last trip down into the cavern ta fix the dirt so’s things could grow again and the shaftin’ tree’s roots would be all cozy and comfy buried in it. By Friday, Bel had collected a load o’ dead fish, and Sun-Ok the silk we’d be needin’, to finish our work in the hole below the tree o’ shaftin’.

But I gotta tell ya somethin’ first. A man always smells a bit to me, ya know? They’s all got a sour odor to ‘em somethin’ like pipe tobacco, ale and general grubbiness all mixed up together and I tries never to stand too close to a man. Yup! All men is kind o’ stinky! ‘Cept for Port o’ course, who’s always wearin’ perfume and Voran who’s got kind o’ a pleasant scent to him.

Anyways, I ain’t never smelled nothin’ in my life as bad as Bel, carryin’ all those dead fish ‘round in his pack fer the better part o’ a week! Oh geez! Bel stunk somethin’ awful! The stench o’ him was makin’ me hair curl and my tummy queasy and givin’ me a headache all at the same time and I just wanted ta writ all o’ that down.

So we made our way into Barrelgore’s kitchen and shortly after, Bel, Durok, Voran, Walis, Sun-Ok and me was in the cavern, fixin’ ta make the ground in it good fer growin’ things once more. T’was my job ta dig little holes along the path we found ourselves on and Bel’s job ta drop one o’ the fish he was carryin’, into each hole I dug, makin’ the dirt fertile again.

I done the very best I could diggin’ the holes. The ground was hard and I ain’t thought ta bring a spade. I was scrapin’ ‘em out with me sword and some o’ the holes was kinda shallow. After Bel threw in a fish, he’d have to squoosh each one down hard with his boot, makin’ the stink o’ it even worse! Oh geez!

All the while, Sun-Ok was busy sewin’ silk into every corner she could find along the path and securin’ all o’ it with Grippli Stick Sharps what she hammered into little cracks in the rock. She was makin’ homes for the spiders and ap . . . uh, aphi . . . uh, all the other tiny bugs what lived down there.

Meanwhile Durok, Voran and Walis was busy guardin’ those o’ us who was diggin’ and sewin’ from all the skinnies what had popped up outta nowhere and was doin’ their best ta kill us all! We finished with the diggin’ and used up all o’ Bel’s fish and Sun-Ok made some really nice places fer the bugs ta live and we all climbed back outta the cavern, leavin’ most o’ the odor from the dead fish down there.

We ain’t let Bel come with us til he took off his smelly boots and threw ‘em in the hole we’d just come up from and he had to make his way back to Frankie’s camp, limpin’ and hoppin’ along in his bare feet.

Frank was happy, hearin’ ‘bout our fixin up the dirt and makin’ homes fer all the bugs and spiders in the cavern. He told us all ta rest up ‘cause next week we’d all be goin’ off ta Arik lookin’ for somethin’ else he was needin’

Ohh geeeeez! Arik!